Robert Haynes - Senior Naval Architect - BMT Group

Issued: Fri, 11 Sep 2020 17:14:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I have a cat named after Commander Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Tell us about your career journey so far

I studied Naval Architecture at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde (at that time a joint department), graduating with an MEng degree. Between the 3rd and 4th years of my degree, I did a summer placement with BAE Systems. After graduating I joined their graduate scheme, which lasted two years, then spent another two years with them as a Naval Architect. I then worked in Rosyth Dockyard for another 4 years, before joining my current company as a Senior Naval Architect.

As a naval architect, I design ships and do other engineering work for their construction and maintenance. I ensure that they can be operated safely and effectively to carry passengers or cargo, or to do other jobs.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Hard to say – loved both maths and physics, so which one I enjoyed more depended on which teacher I preferred at the time! In both subjects I could explore basic principles, see what kind of tools they gave me, and then figure out how to apply them to problems.

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

I use maths pretty much every day. It’s really flexible, whether I’m working out how to balance a ship in the water or how to fit a piece of equipment into a space. And physics is useful as well, there are lots of forces to deal with. The most important thing is actually people skills, though – engineering is a team sport where nobody expects you to know everything or be able to do everything on your own. To get things done, you have to be able to work with people and play to the strengths of your team. Anything that helps you learn how to do that will make you a better engineer.

What is a normal day in your role like?

I work remotely a lot of the time, so a lot of my work is done through emails, instant messaging and virtual meetings. My hours are flexible, so I usually start and finish early which means I normally have emails waiting for me from the previous day when I start work. Once I’ve dealt with them, I can get on with whatever project I’m working on. At the moment, I spend a lot of time reviewing documents and drawings, and writing proposals for technical changes to equipment, but I’ll probably be doing something completely different for my next project.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I really enjoy being able to show a customer how I’ve been able to find a good solution to their problem. That is, something that’s cost-effective, sustainable, and elegant. You don’t always know what a really good solution looks like until you’ve found it, and sometimes it can be totally unexpected. That’s really satisfying when it happens.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work? 

This is a simple exercise I did on my first day at university: think about what kind of ship you would use to carry 100 tonnes of iron ore, and what kind of ship you’d use to carry 100 tonnes of cars.

If you’re not sure what they might look like, try searching the Internet for ideas.

What kind of differences are there? Why aren’t they the same?


[Note: I can expand this into an activity sheet, probably suitable for older secondary school pupils.]

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